Malaysian prime minister urges US and China cooperation in Asia-Pacific

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Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim delivers the 2024 Gareth Evans Oration at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, on March 7. (AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia, March 7, (AP): Malaysia’s prime minister said Thursday that the United States has become more “transactional,” using rewards and punishments to achieve aims with other countries, and should be encouraged to enhance cooperation with China in the Asia-Pacific region.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim advocated against taking sides in US-led Western rivalries against China for strategic influence in the region. He also rejected Western criticism that Malaysia is too accommodating of China as it becomes increasingly assertive in the South China Sea.
Anwar, in a speech at Australian National University on Thursday, promoted “empathy” toward China, which he said regarded negative reactions to its rise as an “attempt to deny their legitimate place in history.”
“I believe that Malaysia and Australia have a duty to try the utmost to encourage the United States, China and other major players in the Asia-Pacific to conduct themselves in a manner that is conducive to the enhancement of regional cooperation and economic integration,” Anwar said.
Without Southeast Asian nations’ intervention, the region would be “principally dictated by the calculations and designs of the major powers.”
Anwar outlined globally significant societal and political shifts in the US over the past three decades such as globalization that benefited the Asian working class and reduced the US industrial base. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had also impacted Americans’ psyche.
“The upshot is a preference for leaders who are more transactional with the rest of the world,” said Anwar, referring to US politicians.
“The Washington consensus is gradually eroding, if not altogether disappeared,” he added.
Western perspectives on the future of global order should not be expected to be embraced universally, Anwar said.
In a veiled criticism of China enforcing legally baseless territorial claims in the South China Sea, Anwar said: “We may not turn a blind eye” to breaches of international law.

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